- Kuwait Times Extra
KUWAIT: “Kuwait is going through very difficult times,” HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah told editors-in-chief of newspapers in Kuwait during a meeting at Bayan Palace yesterday. Remarking that he is bewildered about the current situation in the country, he queried: “How has the level of disagreement of the population reached such a critical moment? In Kuwait we have always had opinions and opposing opinions but our opposing views have never reached such a level.” He noted that it is time for the government and the media to cooperate and focus on the important issues of the day. “We might express different views but we must refrain from leveling groundless accusations against each other,” he stressed.
“The political movement in the country testifies to the vitality of the society and democratization which should give momentum to development rather than hindering it,” Sheikh Jaber added, noting that the majority in the last parliament failed to encourage the government to adopt positive steps contrary to the spirit of the constitution which favors cooperation between the legislative and executive authorities.
Sheikh Jaber opined that the change in the voting system from four votes to one is a legal and constitutional right of HH the Amir. “HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah reached the conviction that this abnormal situation could not persist any longer. Thanks to his wisdom and the advice of constitutional experts, the Amir adopted the emergency Amiri Decree regulating the constituencies and calling new parliamentary elections,” he said, adding that the Amir saw the necessity to change the voting system with one that does not favor alliances based on religious or tribal sentiments and one that creates problems.
“We are very optimistic and hopeful about the many positive changes that we will encounter in the near future. The coming stage will see a giant leap in economic development. The stage is set for implementing mega projects, some of which have already been approved. We have the money and we have the brains. We need to move forward,” Sheikh Jaber urged. “I want a parliament that does not have a majority. We agree on having a majority-run parliament but not a majority with one group over another,” he said in response to criticism about the government’s majority in parliament.
Urging the media to shoulder their national responsibilities professionally and objectively, he said: “We must be proud of our media. You have responsibility before God and the Kuwaiti people,” adding that the media is the source for the government to listen to criticism and advice. Sheikh Jaber ruled out the existence of wasta and nepotism in some government institutions, stressing that the government works to ensure fair treatment of all citizens. “There will not be any tolerance of nepotism. We have already taken measures in some ministries to hold people accountable.”
On the Karamat Watan (National Dignity) III protest march on the eve of the elections, Sheikh Jaber said the organizers were given permission from the security services and the government does not oppose the march as long as it is held within rules and regulations. Asked to reflect on allegations circulating on Twitter about foreign interference in Kuwait’s political affairs and threats made by the Muslim Brotherhood to topple the government, Sheikh Jaber said: “There are no threats made to Kuwait by the Muslim Brotherhood.” He emphatically denied any foreign support given to the opposition in plotting to topple the government in Kuwait. “Qatar’s government and its people want the best for the people of Kuwait,” he said.
Sheikh Jaber said that increases in housing and rental allowances and salaries are currently being studied by the government, affirming that increases are to be expected. “Studies of increases are being done and they will be implemented,” he said. On the issue of writing off loans, Sheikh Jaber was firm: “It is not in the public’s benefit and it is unfair to the public to write off the loans of some indebted entities. It is unfair. What about those who paid their loans?”
Reflecting on Kuwait’s participation in sports events, he said: “Out of keenness on more effective participation at international sports events, HH the Amir adopted a decree to amend the regulations and the activities of the Public Authority for Youth and Sports. The amendments, entailed in the decree, are in tandem with the laws of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Charter,” adding that the decree will be tabled at the coming National Assembly for endorsement.
In my capacity of a doctor with a solid background in the healthcare field in Kuwait, I made an appeal to Sheikh Jaber to continue with the implementation of projects in the field of healthcare. Assuring Sheikh Jaber that some 95 percent of the doctors in Kuwait are in full support of the projects announced by the Ministry of Health, I appealed for their implementation, which the prime minister welcomed warmly. He responded positively and acknowledged that a lot of more needs to be done in this field. Taking the point further, he stressed that only the day before he had met the minister of health and discussed the necessary changes in the avenue of healthcare.
The meeting, which was held in a friendly and informal atmosphere, was attended by the Minister of Information and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information Sheikh Salman Al-Hmoud, who both played a vital role in the meeting.
By Dr Ziad Al-Alyan
Kuwait Times Deputy Editor-in-Chief
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